Friday, June 07, 2013

Still here.

Oh, hello. Sorry about that, I got a bit distracted. You know what it's like; you go out for a pint of milk and end up getting married. Or something. Not that I got married or anything. So...

The Co-Op in my last post - it's shut! Gone. We thought it was because Aldi had bought the pub opposite and were in the process of knocking it down but in truth the Co-Op were happy to continue trading off the their brave socialist divvy and committed customer base against the Hunnish invader's onslaught of cheap memory sticks, hiking sticks, really awful veg that goes off as soon as it leaves the shop and barely disguised rip-offs of premium comestibles with stupid Anglicised names. That was until their landlord doubled their rent from £25k a year to £50k. In comes Martin McColls, willing to pay. Ever been in one? Don't bother. Their only redeeming feature was that they took on all the Co-Op staff. It is a sad day when I yearn for an Aldi to succeed.

Long term followers of this diary will, I am certain, be saddened to hear that Sharon, she who got me doing this in the first place and by turns muse for and unwitting star of many of the 450 odd posts here passed away on 16th May, peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by her Mum, three adored children and myself. Some of you will no doubt be familiar with her health issues, much of which she bore with strength and fortitude for over ten years but in the end, one infection too many proved too many. She was the finest of people. She could, by her own admission, be a total and utter cow and goodness didn't I know it. But you know when partners break up and one goes "still be friends, yeah?" and you both nod, secretly knowing that you'll probably never want to see them again, ever ? In our case it really happened. We finally split under a bit of cloud but within a couple of months we'd realised that being friends was what mattered most. She could still infuriate - and I dare say that was reciprocal - but I've never had a better or more precious friend. I miss her and I will miss her always.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cheese shop

I love the Co-Op but this morning it has annoyed me immensely. Not half an hour ago I saw some smoked cheese in there with a reduced label on. Lovely. We both like smoked cheese and this was very cheap. It lasts for ages, too. This is presumably on account of it a) being cheese and really, it's already off isn't it. And b) it's smoked, which in my book, apart from making the cheese taste rather nice, is another way of preserving it.

"Can't sell you that, love".

"Why not?"

"It's a day over. If we got caught."

"But it's cheese. By its very nature, it's already gone bad. It is off milk riddled with smelly bacteria to the point of being rancid and then it's left in a shed for several months, occasionally being prodded by men in coats before someone lights a bonfire underneath it. What difference is a day in vacuum wrapping in a fridge going to make? I'll take the risk. You should see that stilton I bought in West St a couple of months ago. Lovely sauce."

"I know, love. It annoys us, too."

"So it's going to be thrown away. What if if I, you know, like er...stole it? Surely I can't be done for nicking something you were going to chuck out?. That would be a right old irony, wouldn't it; you'd prosecute me for thieving something that you would have got done for should you have sold it. I'd like to hear that summing up."

"Er...ha ha..."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

In which I get a bit uppity.

Your host apologises for the fact that he's never made a study of all European unemployment benefit systems.

Did you know for instance that if you're claiming JSA you can go abroad and still claim for 3 months? Providing it's contributions based, which effectively restricts it to the first 6 months of your unemployment. Neither did I. It's never been explained to me in all the time I've been unemployed so why would I know? On the front page of the Direct Gov website it says you can only claim if you're in the UK, so why look further? Apparently unemployed Belgians can come here and can prolong their own claim for four months. Damn, I should have known that but . But the only Belgian I know can't explain their system and my French is shit so HTF would I have known?

Because I'm repeatedly told by the Daily Mail that this place is Eldorado for benefit scroungers, especially foreign ones and despite my own experience proving the contrary, I've kind of assumed that other countries aren't as generous. Our rules must be slack then, even the one about being in the the UK. In other countries you probably can't even leave your town. In fact it is Belgium where everyone should be heading. Apparently they don't means test or even check up that you're looking for work and freely pay for you to live abroad regardless of how long you've been claiming and regardless of any disparity in the benefits eligibility rules between the two countries. No it doesn't particularly make sense to me either, which is one of the reasons I didn't know.

It should not be incumbent upon the person in the street to know these things. There is too much to know. It is why countries have costly bureaucracies, in order to point this stuff out to us because, believe it or not, there are other things in life worth knowing more than the intricacies of the social security system and spending half your life chasing around behind the arse who couldn't be bothered to tell you in the first place.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

This call may be recorded

I think I may have inadvertently hit upon the malaise that is currently affecting the country and causing disaffected hordes of university lecturers and other so-called "professionals" to take to the streets in order to trash the local Body Shop for a lifetime's supply of jojoba and hemp arse butter. The Harridan and I have suffered a repeated and relentless attack of this over the past few weeks and it is quite obviously a sickness eating deep into society's very heart and everyone who has ever bought anything has been affected by it to the point where they almost certainly never want to actually buy anything again. Ever. So...

A) You have recently suffered some civil disturbance. On a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is Very Inconvenient and 5 is I hardly notice the bruises, can you rate your experience of your local riot?

B) Where 1 is No damage and 5 is Razed to the ground how do you rate the damage to your property?

C) Have you been financially affected by the troubles? 1) No 2) My shoes were damaged by petrol from a Molotov cocktail and I have had to replace them C) The insurance on my business ran out yesterday and I've just about been struggling by in the recession. I have enough left for a half bottle of Spar whisky and box of generic paracetomols.

D) How was your trip to and from work affected? A) No problems B) Slight diversion C) My office was burned down so I didn't bother D) I am in hospital because my car was overturned by hoodies

D) You are in receipt of some stolen goods but the remote control is missing. Do you A) complain to Currys? B) Go to a boot market on Sunday and hope to pick one up from the bloke with the dodgy copies of Office 2010 and the adult DVDs? C) Hope there's another riot so you can complete your purchase

We will shortly be in touch with you to assess your views on our customer services department and a further survey about this survey. Have a nice day.

Friday, June 24, 2011

This Charming Man.

It has long been mentioned by others, others who should often know better, that I am due more exercise. My recent flirtation with my mortality at the Leighton house of pain resulted in a leaner me to the tune of almost two of Her Majesty's imperial stones and I know this, and the concomitant rise in my level of general physical fitness, has been appreciated in certain quarters but there is still room for improvement. So I have sought to remedy the situation in a drastic fashion; I have entered a World Championship and I compete this coming Saturday.

The nearby village of Willaston has played host for the last three decades to the World Worm Charming Championships. It is a prestigious event covered by the world's most renowned media operators, although Sky haven't yet sullied it with huge cash injections and an insistence on it being held at a convenient for advertisers slot or formulated a short snappy version to be played in pyjamas, so wherever you are in the world you should be able to view my fellow combatants and me in competition, probably in the "And finally..." bit.

How does it work? Simple; you have half an hour to get as many worms out of a 3m square plot of primary school playing field (yes, there IS actually one left without a housing estate on it) as possible without digging a hole or using water or other forms of chemical inducement. The favoured method seems to be to somehow mimic the sound of rainfall falling on the earth and indeed, watch gulls and other birds in your own garden and you will often see them waddling about on the spot doing just that. A brand new large garden fork has been purchased and I have sawn notches into a piece of 1" x 1" timber batten I had kept (I just KNEW it would come in useful. SEE? That's what sheds are for) to draw along the handle of the fork while it is stuck in the ground, a practice known as "fiddling". So far my training sessions have yielded precisely this many worms: 0. I'm hoping it's going to chuck it down and save me the bother. I have done this before, though, much more successfully. Many years ago while on holiday in Denmark, my then father-in-law and I were discussing obtaining worms for fishing bait with our hosts. Our hosts' daughter's certifiable boyfriend, Per, had the answer, which he swore blind worked: two garden forks, stuck in the lawn several feet apart and several yards of electrical cable. With a plug on the end. Health and safety be damned. We naturally stood off the lawn and made sure it wasn't raining when he flicked the switch but it took about 30 seconds until the poor buggers came flying out. I'm sure this method isn't allowed on Saturday.

Apparently the worms respond well to music but not, as one would assume, the calming strains of something pastoral or soothing. No, apparently they prefer the driving rhythms of rock and roll. Splendid. I couldn't find anything with forks in it and there's no way I'm playing that load of old dreary from The Smiths. Another garden implement then...

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Football theory.

I watched the football match between the England and the Switzerland earlier. Favourites England very soon went behind 2 - 0 and were being outplayed and out-cheated (first goal, he never touched him, ref) by the wily Alpine also rans. After 30 minutes, Sig Capello replaced the crocked left back, Ashley Cole, with Everton's Leighton Baines (above) and parity was very soon restored, with Baines, to my mind, being the stand-out player for England.

Why was this? It was for no other reason than because he looks like a proper footballer. Busy and stocky. Wide forehead. Proper haircut. The way footballers used to look back when the Daily Express was very nearly a newspaper. Let's face it, when I was a kid nobody ever wanted to look like a footballer, even though some of them were reported to earn about £100 a week. I bet he even has an old Ford Granada Ghia and wants to run a pub in Cheshire when he hangs up his boots. This is the way it should be.

Some proper footballers, not nancy boy overpaid whingeing poofs (except maybe the long-haired lady-boy in the Arsenal shirt). Huge prizes for correct guesses.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Silly count.

I have been annoying people with my pickiness. Or is that pickyness? Neither, at least according to Blogger's spell-check. Do I care? Well, yes. What is the point in having a language if one does not appreciate its general rules? But I will accept that misunderstandings occur when basic common sense deserts in favour of slavish interpretation of what the eye sees.

Yesterday, in ASDA, we purchased the above box of fungi. It clearly states a price of £1 as it was a special offer. There was no bar code, just a product number. If you are familiar with the self-service tills at supermarkets, you will understand this. The highly trained operatives in ASDA, one would think, would be similarly familiar. Ours, on inputting the number into the machinery, received a prompt: "Enter amount" the screen said, which she repeated audibly. She stopped, thought for a second and, notwithstanding the fact that she was about to charge us £1 for every item, proceeded to count every mushroom in the box. Oh.